Another year, another Call of Duty. You know how this stuff works; we get another title, which finds new ways to lead you through bombastic set pieces. After sitting through a demo today at E3, I can confidently say you can still expect that kind of stuff in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
What actually stood out in the demo, amusingly enough, was the fauna of Call of Duty: Call of Duty Dog and the not-so-impressive Call of Duty fish.
Riley, as you might recall, is based on real life canines used by US Navy SEALS. You can give him commands and he'll do his best to tear out the throats of your enemies. I saw this in action today: the player sends the dog ahead of the squad, Riley hides in the grass and waits for an opportune moment to attack. During these segments, the perspective is based on Riley's camera — which makes it seem as if you're looking through Riley's eyes.
So when he goes in for the bite, you're up close and personal — it almost feels as if the growls are coming from you, the player. It's vicious and animalistic in a way that Call of Duty almost never is. Although I wasn't playing — it was a hands-off demo — it seemed as if enemy deaths have more of an impact on the player if you go at them through Riley rather than simply shooting them.
He's a tough pup; it's hard not to be charmed. And you can bet on having that charm work against you: in a segment where the player orders Riley to burst into a building on his own, I couldn't help but fear that maybe the dog wasn't going to be able to make it out alive. I mean, you can't see what's going on inside! Sure, he's wearing a bulletproof vest, but what if there's a bunch of dudes in there? Riley is all alone! So you hear the barking and the screams and you can't help but wonder how things are going, only to suddenly have the entire thing explode in chaos. Somehow, Riley is fine. Thank god. Good boy!
It's not always that nerve wracking, of course. There was a part where you order Riley to go ahead and act as a distraction — he barks, that catches the guard's attention, and it gives you an opportunity to shoot him down. A smooth operation where you don't wonder if Call of Duty dog is gonna die, which is great because I'm not sure I could handle an entire game full of anxiety over Riley's well-being.
Our love for Riley might've started out as a joke, but based on what I saw today, he very well might steal the show in Ghosts. The real question is, how does Call of Duty dog compare to Call of Duty fish?
Today, I also got to see the infamous Call of Duty fish in action. Last time we looked at the fish, we discovered that the super advanced technology that makes the fish move out of the way isn't actually, you know, all that advanced. Games like Super Mario 64 did that like 17 years ago. Of course, it's easy to be cynical: what if there is actually something to them worth being wowed about?
Based on what I saw today, that's definitely not the case. There was an underwater segment of the demo which saw players swim through debris-filled water while wielding special underwater weaponry. Fish were everywhere, but as the player swam forward, they never once moved out of the way. Uh....
In fact, the fish simply didn't seem care about the player's presence — or heck, even the objects in the game. I watched as one fish clipped through a shipping container. I watched as fish stayed put when you swam up next to them and fired bullets. (???) The only time I really saw them "swim out of the way" was when the player had to go into an underwater lighthouse which apparently housed a school of fish. But that seemed scripted.
All in all, don't expect to be wowed by the fish in Call of Duty. They don't even seem to sport last-gen technology. But get ready to be thrilled by Call of Duty dog.